So the recession is over and the stock market has bounced back, but many investors are still wary of jumping back into the game. And rightfully so — isn’t it considered insanity to do the same thing and expect different results?
But the stock market has always had its ups and downs — that’s normal. It’s just hard for the average investor to get used to.
“A lot of people still have the mentality that ‘you fooled me twice’ and a lot of people are still wary about riding the roller coaster,” said Ben Scellick, president of Ludeman Capital Management. “The average investor has a tough time with the swings of the stock market.”
The tough news is that sustained periods of market gains are probably over, Scellick said. Most investors are expecting the ups and downs to be more frequent in the coming decade.
So what are investors worried about these days? Inflation and government debt are two big concerns, along with a general lack of confidence in the American economy, Scellick said.
For that reason, Ludeman Capital Management put together a portfolio that is designed to appreciate during periods of inflation. The portfolio is balanced with commodities such as metals and oil and also international currencies, allowing the fund to respond to various causes of inflation.
“It’s not the most lucrative portfolio,” Scellick said. “We try not to have it too linked to the stock market, but if a person is concerned about inflation, this is designed for them.”
As for government debt, while it is an astonishing amount, it’s not something this country hasn’t dealt with before, said regional economist Bill Conerly. The federal government has carried larger debt loads than this in the past and dealt with it properly — mainly with fiscal discipline and higher taxes, he said.
“I don’t think the budget deficit has much of an effect over the two year economic forecast,” Conerly said.
While the U.S. economy has a long way to go before it fully recovers, the stock market has seen healthy gains as investors gain more confidence in U.S. companies, particularly those with overseas exposure, said Brant Faulkner of Faulkner Investment Services.
Part of the reason this trend is happening is that emerging markets such as India, China and Brazil are cooling down from their impressive gains during the recession. They are still good places to invest, but the focus now is shifting to commodities, Faulkner said.
“Some of the most promising parts of emerging markets are those with natural resources like copper and aluminum. These commodities are needed to build infrastructure,” he said. “Those countries that are rich in commodities stand to do the best.”
Here in the United States, Faulkner said he expects the stock market to see better-than-average returns for the next two years as the economy works its way back to operating at full potential.
Now that the market is rebounding, this is a good time for investors to re-evaluate the risk in their portfolio and focus on reaching their investment goals.
“Anytime we go through a stressful period like this, it’s very easy for people to lose sight of their true investment objectives. People get focused on the volatility of the moment,” Faulkner said. “It’s a good time for people to become really focused on their goals.”